It was really hard to stay focused on the set list. After Pensacola, this crowd felt more like a hundred times the size, not ten–or seven or whatever the actual math was. I had been worried about how Miracle Mile was going to be received what with them being a late addition to the bill and all, but thanks to the drugs I didn’t actually pay attention and don’t actually remember anything about how their set went.
I do remember hitting the stage and running smack dab into the wall of sound from the crowd. Okay, maybe the drugs had something to do with it seeming like there were a million people there, but it was twenty-thousand plus, our biggest venue yet. And they were all screaming in a frenzy.
Now that I think about it, the fact that the news clip of the explosion had been played a million times probably had something to do with that. Maybe just seeing us alive and well was scream-worthy. It was enough to make Jonathan, who is such a level-headed guy, lose his head, so … yeah.
So an audience is sometimes like a giant animal, when they’re all together like that. I felt connected to that animal, that organism, and I kept doing things to make them scream, like start playing the riffs to things they’d recognize. I don’t mean our own songs, which of course were the biggest thrill of all, but other stuff: I can’t even remember what. Zeppelin. Metallica. Stuff. Just fills between songs except that made it hard to move on to the next song. Colin re-wrote my set list in larger letters as if that was the problem and at one point darted out and taped it right on my wedge monitor. Maybe he thought with only one eye I couldn’t see them unless he made the letters twice as big.
I used the volume of the cheers and the wideness of the grin on Ziggy’s face as my gauges of whether things were going well. I know from my point of view everything was fantastic. Whatever the hell that pill was it made me feel ten feet tall and like I could do no wrong.
Come to think of it, that’s kind of how I feel during a really good show, anyway. Except I already felt that way before I stepped on the stage. At one point my burned hand got a little tired and I played a whole song using a beer bottle as a slide and it was amazingly good.
No, really. Afterward, by which I mean after they dragged me (and Ziggy, who was right there with me) off the stage after a second encore, in the green room I solicited the opinions of the three people I figured I could trust most to tell me if the show had sucked or not: Carynne, Jonathan, and Bart.
All three gave it a thumbs up, each in their own way.
Then I passed out on a couch and when I woke up it was because Carynne was shaking me with a really worried-sounding, “Come on, Daron.”
“I’m awake, what’s wrong?”
“Just checking that you were asleep and not unconscious,” she said. “Come on, babycakes, it’s time to get going.”
“Babycakes? Where did that come from?”
“No idea. Look, we’re not actually rolling until the morning, so you might want to sleep somewhere more comfortable.”
“Um.” I sat up suddenly, remembering Jonathan was there somewhere. Then I blinked with druggy sleepiness. “Um.”
She patted me on the head. “Or there’s here.”
“Here’s good.” I rubbed my eyes and ly back down on the couch I was on. “I wonder what the hangover from this is going to be like, though.”
“I’ll get you some water.”
But I was unconscious again by the time she got back.
I woke around dawn, with a padded moving blanket over me and a bottle of water next to me on the floor. I drank the water and went back to sleep.
The real morning came quickly enough. I don’t know if J. slept at the hotel or if he just sacked out on a bench in the bus or what, but he was there when the entire band and a fair portion of the crew hit Denny’s on the way out of town. Miracle Mile had eaten at the hotel and went ahead of us, with Chris.
Colin told me they adopted Cain, too. “I figure they couldn’t resist a biblical name.” That almost made me snort orange juice out my nose.
The hangover was surprisingly mild, and I was glad for that. I had Moons over My Hammy and a bowl of chili even though it was breakfast. At Denny’s they don’t judge.
I decided now that everyone was sober to ask again if the show had been any good.
“Oh, don’t you start now with the self-doubt and paranoia, too,” Ziggy said, balling up a napkin and throwing it at my head. It bounced off my bandaged eye and he winced in apology.
“I’m not, I just know I wasn’t exactly the best judge of things yesterday.”
Bart yawned. “Well, you already know what I think. I want to grab the audio for posterity off Louis’s videotape even though it’s just from a crap condenser mic. You sure as hell kept us on our toes.”
“Oh shit, I wonder if Christian thinks I was doing it just to torture him.”
Bart shrugged. “He might, but he kept up.”
Jonathan weighed in. “Pretty incredible overall. But you always are when you let yourself go.”
“He’s ri-i-i-ght,” Ziggy sang.
I looked Ziggy in the eye with my one eye. “How many more of those do you have left?”
“Not enough to last until we get home,” he said.
I just need enough to last me until my hand doesn’t hurt, I thought. How long could that be, a week? I flexed it.
Carynne put her hand on my elbow. “I want a check-in from both of you,” she said, to me and Ziggy, “before and after every sound check. I want to know everything about your injuries and what your pain level is like. If we need to get more meds, we will. Don’t play chicken with this guys, seriously.”
I couldn’t tell if she meant don’t do too much or don’t do too little. Maybe she meant both.